Culture Calendar: Top Metro Detroit Events for August 2023

The host of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET offers a curated list of this month’s art and entertainment. Plus, score details on big events happening this August.
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Photographer James Barnor’s “Sick- Hagemeyer Shop Assistant” is one of nearly 200 of his photos on display at the DIA through Oct. 15. // Photograph by James Barnor, courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts

Metro Detroit is always so full of events and other fun things to do that it can be tough keeping track of it all. To help you plan your weekend itineraries, we’ve asked Ryan Patrick Hooper, the host of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET to share his top August happenings in the area. Plus, find save the dates for concerts, stage performances, art exhibitions, and much more.

Last Chance: Sonya Clark focuses on community, fiber on her return to Cranbrook

You might recognize the name of multidisciplinary artist Sonya Clark. Hailing from Washington, D.C., but having earned her MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1995, Clark was behind the Healing Memorial at Detroit’s Huntington Place downtown — a representation of the COVID-19 pandemic’s toll on the city that was developed by enlisting residents to create small memorial pouches using fabric to honor their loved ones.

Now, Clark is back in the state for a midcareer survey of her decades-long career on display at the Cranbrook Art Museum.

Sonya Clark: We Are Each Other brings together Clark’s monumental, community-centered works for the first time (including her Healing Memorial). The pioneering fiber artist weaves in topics of history, race, community, and communication with one another. The result is a stunning multigallery exhibit that you can spend hours in, interacting with the work as you go.

Sonya Clark: We Are Each Other is now on display at the Cranbrook Art Museum through Sept. 24. For additional details, visit cranbrookartmuseum.org.

At The Museum: Massive photography exhibit at the DIA is a must-see

One of the best shows you’ll see this year is James Barnor: Accra/London — A Retrospective, an exhibit dedicated to the work of the Ghanaian photographer. It’s the largest retrospective of his work in the United States to date, and you’ll only be able to see it at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Barnor started his career in the 1950s, and as you walk through the exhibit, you’ll watch him go from black-and-white to color and from the streets and political changes of Accra, Ghana, to the fashions of London, bringing African models to English newsstands in a ground-breaking way.

The nearly 200 photos on display are separated by massive murals of Barnor’s work re-created on the walls of the galleries, supporting a narrative-forward approach to the exhibit that the DIA has championed for the past decade-plus.

If you haven’t found yourself connecting with photo exhibits in the past, James Barnor: Accra/ London will be the one to change that for you.

James Barnor: Accra/ London — A Retrospective is now on display through Oct. 15 at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The exhibit is free with admission. For more details and a glimpse of the photos on display, visit dia.org.

Live Music: Didn’t get enough of Detroit’s electronic music scene? Charivari to the rescue.

I totally get the idea that electronic music isn’t for everyone, but neither is Jack White. Still, we pay attention to and root for our hometown heroes even if we aren’t filling up our headphones with what they make. And when it comes to experiencing Detroit’s cultural exports, like electronic music, they’re the best when witnessed in person.

Charivari Detroit plays second fiddle to the massive Movement electronic music festival, but it’s just as relevant and important to the city’s cultural cachet. This month, the fest returns for its 10th anniversary to Historic Fort Wayne (a super- great yet underutilized venue) to bring electronic music to the masses.

Let go of your preconceived notions of electronic music and embrace one of the city’s cultural strengths. Even the most timid music lovers will be blown away by expanding their minds with something new and fresh.

Charivari Detroit Music Festival takes place Aug. 11-13 at Historic Fort Wayne in Detroit. For more information and tickets, visit charivaridetroit.com.

On My Playlist: A coming out party for Detroit’s Bonny Doon

It’s been a long, winding journey for Bonny Doon, a band that started in Detroit and now has members based here and in New York City.

In 2018, they released Longwave, a sleepy indie favorite that established the three-piece as a band with big things ahead. Since then, they’ve toured extensively with acts like Band of Horses and even backed Waxahatchee on her critically acclaimed Saint Cloud album and subsequent tour.

This year, Bonny Doon was finally able to release their latest effort after years of writing, rehearsing, and reexamining their sound. The resulting album, Let There Be Music, is the sound of Bonny Doon at their most mature and musically expansive, finding the sweet spot between Paul McCartney-era Wings and the sound of indie rock today.

Must-listens include “Naturally” and “Maybe Today.” This is a band with Detroit roots that has the perfect album for you to fade into fall with.

You can stream the album Let There Be Music by Bonny Doon wherever you like to get your music. The best way to support independent musicians is by buying their physical media via Bandcamp.

More Top Metro Detroit Events in August 2023

Photograph by Valeska Thomas

Save the dates for comedy shows, film screenings, performances, and more.

Shakespeare Royal Oak

Enjoy an updated spin on one of Shakespeare’s early comedic plays, Love’s Labour’s Lost, at this Royal Oak summer tradition. Performed live onstage by local actors at Starr Jaycee Park, the production follows the misadventures of three college fraternity brothers as they vow to avoid women in an effort to raise their grades. July 27-Aug. 6. $30-$35. Starr Jaycee Park, 1321 W. 13 Mile Road, Royal Oak; shakespeareroyaloak.com.

Walker Hayes

The country-pop star, best known for his chart-topping 2021 hit “Fancy Like,” will make a stop in Sterling Heights on his 23-city Duck Buck Tour. Fans will also enjoy sets from four-time Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Ingrid Andress and breakthrough hip-hop and country fusion artist Breland. Aug. 5. $35+. Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre, 14900 Metro Parkway, Sterling Heights; 313presents.com.

Movies in the Moonlight

Head to scenic downtown Rochester for an outdoor screening of family-friendly films at the corner of East Third and Water streets. The preshow kicks off at 8:30 p.m., while the featured film will begin at dusk. Attendees are asked to please bring their own chairs. Aug. 5. No cost. Downtown Rochester area; downtownrochestermi.com.

Smokey Robinson

Catch one of Detroit’s great Motown legends live in concert as the “Tracks of My Tears” crooner celebrates the 35-year anniversary of his legendary performance at the Fox Theatre’s grand reopening in 1988. The Grammy Legend Award recipient and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee has sold more than 1.5 million albums over the course of his 60-year career. Aug. 5. $59+. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

Belle Isle Art Fair

At this juried art fair on Detroit’s scenic Belle Isle, art lovers can browse paintings, ceramics, jewelry, and glasswork from more than 80 local and national artists. A selection of food trucks will also be available, along with live music and make-and-take projects led by the Anton Art Center. Aug. 5-6. No cost with a $13 state park pass. Belle Isle, Detroit; belleisleartfair.com.

Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band

Grammy Award-winning bluegrass legend Peter Rowan’s career has spanned more than five decades. See him perform with his band in an intimate setting when he stops at The Ark this month to perform tracks from his classic albums, including Dust Bowl Children and The First Whippoorwill, as well as selections from his newest Grammy Award-nominated release, Calling You from My Mountain. Aug. 6. $30. The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; theark.org.

Darius Rucker

The former Hootie and the Blowfish singer-guitarist will tour the U.S. to promote Carolyn’s Boy, his first studio album release since 2017. Hear his latest track,“Fires Don’t Start Themselves,” along with fan favorites and brand-new material. Tennessee-based Americana band Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors will kick off the show. Aug. 10. $35+. Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre, 14900 Metro Parkway, Sterling Heights; 313presents.com.

Mandabi (The Money Order)

Believed to be the first-ever full-length African language film to emerge from West
Africa, this 1968 feature by Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène will show for one afternoon at the DIA’s Detroit Film Theatre in conjunction with its special exhibition James Barnor: Accra/London. The film follows an unemployed Senegalese man as he tries to cash a money order sent by his Parisian nephew and finds himself stymied at every turn. Presented in Wolof and French with English subtitles. Aug. 12. No cost with museum admission. Detroit Film Theatre, 5200 John R St., Detroit; dia.org.

Tim Heidecker

After rising to late-night fame as one half of the Adult Swim comedy duo Tim and Eric, this comedian, actor, writer, and musician garnered appearances in dozens of small- and large-screen comedies, including Bridesmaids and Ant-Man and the Wasp. He also hosts Office Hours Live, a web series and podcast, with fellow comedians Vic Berger and Doug Lussenhop. Aug. 15. $39.50+. Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. 4th St., Royal Oak; royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Fash Bash 2023

Presented by Neiman Marcus, this signature Detroit event celebrates the season’s biggest trends in fashion, design, and style. The night kicks off with a VIP cocktail reception followed by the Art of Fashion runway show, which will feature pieces by leading global designers including Carolina Herrera, Brunello Cucinelli, Tom Ford, Monique Lhuillier, and Michael Kors. Aug. 17. $125+. Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; dia.org.

LL Cool J

See the “Going Back to Cali” rapper live when he brings The F.O.R.C.E. Live tour — his first headlining arena our in 30 years — to Detroit this month. A celebration of all things classic hip-hop, the show also features a curated bill of genre legends, including The Roots, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Bone Thugs-N- Harmony, Common, DJ Z-Trip, and Ice-T. Aug. 18. $58+. Little Caesars Arena, 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

Woodward Dream Cruise Weekend

On Saturday, Aug. 19, more than 1 million spectators are expected to gather along Woodward Avenue to behold the 40,000 vintage automobiles, muscle cars, and other collector vehicles that make up the Woodward Dream Cruise. Its route spans 16 miles, from Ferndale to Pontiac, making it the largest single-day classic car event anywhere in the world. The ribbon cutting is Friday, Aug. 18, in Ferndale, and the cruise on Saturday takes place between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Cities along the route will have their own events beginning Friday. Highlights include Mustang Alley in Ferndale (Sat), the Performance Park Classic Car Show in Royal Oak (Fri. and Sat.), and a Ford Bronco show in Pleasant Ridge (Sat.). Ferndale to Pontiac; woodwarddreamcruise.com.

Jonas Brothers

The Grammy Award-nominated pop trio will embark on a 35-city stadium tour in support of their newest studio release, The Album, which debuted in May. The brothers will play their last five albums in their entirety when they stop at Little Caesars Arena, offering fans a chance to hear newer hits like “Waffle House” as well as older favorites like “Sucker” and “What a Man Gotta Do.” Aug. 24. $39+. Little Caesars Arena, 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

Scott Seiss

After racking up hundreds of millions of views on TikTok with his hilarious “Angry Retail Guy” videos, this Baltimore native opened stand-up shows for big-name comedians like Patton Oswalt, Roy Wood Jr., and Joe Gatto. He’ll perform five shows at the Comedy Castle when he brings his sharp, energetic brand of observational comedy to metro Detroit this month. Aug. 24-26. $23+. Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle, 310 S. Troy St., Royal Oak; comedycastle.com.

Third Annual Labyrinth Celebration

Fans of the 1986 cult classic film are invited to immerse themselves in Labyrinth’s topsy-turvy world, complete with over-the-top decorations, themed craft cocktails, photo ops, and onstage dancing. As the film plays on the Redford Theatre’s silver screen, a live David Bowie tribute band will perform the iconic score in sync with the movie. VIP admission includes a photo op with the Goblin King himself. Aug. 26. $25+. Redford Theatre, 17360 Lahser Road, Detroit; redfordtheatre.com.

The Lumineers

On the heels of their critically acclaimed 2022 album Brightside, the beloved indie folk rockers will make a stop in metro Detroit during an encore run of their 2022 world tour. Exemplified in hit singles like “Ho Hey” and “Ophelia,” the band’s stripped-down sound is heavily influenced by rock greats like Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. English singer-songwriter James Bay will open the show. Aug. 26. $76+. Pine Knob Music Theatre, 33 Bob Seger Drive, Clarkston; 313presents.com.

Eddie B.

Self-styled as “America’s favorite teacher comedian,” funnyman Eddie B. made a name for himself with his viral “What Teachers Really Want to Say” web video series. His raw, uncensored, and hilariously realistic portrayals of what it’s like to be a teacher in the U.S. have garnered him an audience of fans from all over the globe. Aug. 26. $35+. Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. 4th St., Royal Oak; royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Alex G and Alvvays

Catch two critically acclaimed indie acts in one night when singer-songwriter Alex G and indie pop band Alvvays share the stage at Royal Oak Music Theatre. Hear Alex G’s eclectic blend of rock, lo-fi, alternative, and electronica when he plays selections from his 2022 album God Save the Animals. Then settle in for some dreamy, shoegaze-tinged pop from Alvvays, whose 2022 release Blue Rev was named a best new album by Pitchfork. Aug. 30. $35+. Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. 4th St., Royal Oak; royaloakmusictheatre.com.


This story is from the August 2023 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.